By now, most people know what a hashtag is and what it’s used for. If you don’t, this Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag from Mashable should help. Using the symbol formerly known as the pound sign (#), hashtags create searchable words and phrases on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. They are also sometimes used on Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr and Google+.
Brands can use hashtags for countless reasons, such as for campaigns, events and initiatives. Using a killer hashtag is important because it will garner more social media conversation, thereby communicating your key messages and enhancing your brand awareness. So where you do begin?
Start with a brain dump
Your hashtag must be unique, so you need to get the creativity wheels turning. Make a list of every single idea that comes to mind – good or not. As you jot down ideas, you’ll eventually get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Vetting your hashtag
Once you’ve picked your favorites, type each one into the search bar on every social media network. If it’s been used for a different event or campaign, scrap it. If it’s been associated with anything controversial, run the other way – fast.
You might be asking, “What if my favorite hashtag has been used before, but it was several years ago?” In this case, you should first look through the existing posts to ensure they’re appropriate. You wouldn’t want your hashtag associated with content that might get you in trouble (lots of brands have made that mistake). Once you’re in the clear, it’s okay to use the hashtag.
Remember the KISS rule
The KISS rule (“Keep It Simple, Stupid” or “Keep It Super Simple”) can apply to so many things, hashtags included. Keep in mind, our attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish (this is actually true). So shorter hashtags are always better, even if your campaign won’t be Twitter-focused.
The KISS rule is also important because misspellings will skew your results. If your hashtag is #Lollapalooza2017, it will definitely be misspelled by attendees and your hashtag results won’t be near as impressive. This Chicago music festival keeps it simple and uses #Lolla.
Finally, you should be able to say it aloud and people will understand it and easily remember it. If people are asking, “How was that spelled?” your hashtag is so not killer.
Don’t brand it unless it’s a natural fit
Brands tend to want to squeeze their names into hashtags (because marketing), but you should only do this if it’s a natural fit. There are certainly instances where it works well, such as:
But when you look at some of the most successful campaigns, you’ll find that many of them don’t include a brand name. Why is that? In my experience, it’s because people want to participate in a conversation, not promote a brand. Just imagine if Nike used #JustDoItNike.
If your message is compelling and drives conversations that your brand actively engages with, consumers will know who created the hashtag. Here are some examples:
- #LikeAGirl (Always)
- #SFBatKid (Make-A-Wish)
- #PutACanOnIt (Red Bull)
- #GlobalSelfie (NASA)
- #LiveForNow (Pepsi)
It should fit your brand voice
No matter what you’re working on, you should always keep the brand voice in mind. If your brand is witty and playful like Wendy’s, you can create funny hashtags and pick fights with Burger King. But if you’re a health care organization, for example, your hashtag should always evoke compassion.
We’d love to help create a killer social media strategy (and hashtag) for your next campaign or event.